Thursday, September 22, 2011
Paranormal Guest Author: Merrie Haskell (The Princess Curse)
Please welcome today's paranormal author Merrie Haskell! Merrie is the author of The Princess Curse.
EJ: When did you begin writing?
Merrie: I started writing when I was seven years old; I distinctly remember folding a piece of ruled paper lengthwise and making that into a book, and illustrating the cover with markers. It was a book about a princess--I think it was called "The Story of a Princess," in fact. My mom saved it, so I should scan it in for posterity. In any case, it was a pretty dry and linear piece of work, but it did feature a dragon and a three-year engagement. I'm not sure where the dragon came from, but I was reading a lot of Laura Ingalls Wilder at the time, and I believe she had a three-year engagement.
I know I wrote lots of dribs and drabs of things after that, but didn't complete anything else until my 5th grade language arts teacher challenged me to do so. She was an amazing teacher, and pulled my mom aside at the class picnic to tell her to encourage me to write. Though my mom already was giving me the space I needed to be creative, plus the support to buy my first typewriter that year (which I paid for myself with dog-walking money).
It's interesting to me though--that I started writing when I was seven, but I waited nearly twenty years before I got serious about trying to get published. I think it took me until my late twenties to realize the world wasn't going to just offer me publishing contracts at whim based on my... fine taste in books? I don't know what I was thinking, honestly, but when I was younger I harbored fantasies of running into favorite author at some bookstore and having her mentor me and show me the way into publishing, which is... definitely a fantasy!
EJ: What brought you to the paranormal genre?
Merrie: I rarely have ideas for stories that don't include some science fiction or fantasy or paranormal element. I know that I like the way those otherworldly elements allow you to use allegory and metaphor without being obnoxious, boring, or preachy. Diana Peterfreund's RAMPANT springs immediately to mind--exploring virginity and what our culture thinks it means becomes significantly more intense and interesting if you throw unicorns into the mix.
My otherwise-supportive mother once asked me: "Why don't you write something real?" And of all the defenses that leaped to my lips, including the metaphor/intensification argument I just laid out, the one that won her over was: "I want to show people what's possible."
EJ: If you could be any paranormal or have any one supernatural talent, what would it be? Why?
Merrie: I'd like to be able to time travel. Hands down! Given how much I like ordinary, physical travel, I can't see not loving the chance to vacation in the past... I've always thought that storytelling was in some ways a manifestation of my desire to travel in time. I'm not talking about writing, or not just writing, here; I love telling stories about my crazy past and kooky acquaintances, and painting a picture that, however briefly, takes me and my listener back into the moment. I spent a lot of time with my elderly grandparents when I was young, and always felt like 1925 was just a few steps sideways, not "50 years before I was born." They were also storytellers in that vein, so I'd say the inclination for time travel runs in the family.
EJ: Tell us why readers will enjoy your new release.
Merrie: I hope readers will enjoy THE PRINCESS CURSE--and I hope it's because of Reveka and Frumos. Reveka is ruthlessly pragmatic about the realities of her world, but unwilling to take no for an answer. I love people like that. Those are the people who can get things done in the world. She's also slightly obsessed with herbs, and I love writing and reading about nerds in love with their favorite subject. And as for Frumos--well, men of mystery are always intriguing!
EJ: If your book(s) were being made into a movie, who would you cast for the leading roles? Why?
Merrie: Tough question! I don't do much mental casting when I write, and when I do, it's usually "actor X when they were a kid" or "actor Y when they were alive." The biggest problem is, everyone in Hollywood is too pretty to be in my books. I think at one point, Reveka refers to herself as "not homely." So, as long as we agree movies are the book with everyone's prettiness tripled...
But there is an exception: I was actually picturing David Tennant (the 10th Doctor Who) while I was writing Frumos. Of course, he's too old to be Frumos, so possibly Callum Blue (Zod on SMALLVILLE), but he's *also* too old to be Frumos. But I think, based on those two references, you'd have a pretty good idea of who to cast, were you a casting agent.
Reveka is tough. The cover artist, Jason Chan, did a great job capturing the Reveka in my mind (she's based on a friend's daughter). Maybe Chloe Moretz, who is due to play Emily the Strange? Needs hair dye and contacts, but I think she could nail it. Jodelle Ferland? Willow Shields?
For Lacrimora and Otilia (two of the twelve dancing princesses and half-sisters), I have to say Emma Stone and Molly Quinn. With Bryce Dallas Howard as Maricara (the eldest sister) and Spencer Locke as the Princess Consort. And Dot Jones (Coach Beiste on GLEE) as Marjit. Oh, now I'm spending way too much time on this. Sorry!
The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling (if silly) curse, and anyone who ends it will win a reward. Reveka, a sharp-witted and irreverent apprentice herbalist, wants that reward. But her investigations lead to deeper mysteries and a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?
Thank you Merrie for joining us here today at From the Shadows!
To learn more about Merrie Haskell and her books, please visit her website.